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Asian Art and History

Netsuke: A Portable Encyclopedia of Japanese Legends

Signature Event Space

Image detail of artwork representing the lecture
Monika Bincsik - Image of the lecturer in a promotional photo
Feb 20, 10:30am
Signature Event Space 10:30am
 
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Lecture

Asian Art and History
Netsuke: A Portable Encyclopedia of Japanese Legends

Artis—Naples Lifelong Learning


Monika Bincsik, Ph.D., Diane and Arthur Abbey Associate Curator of Japanese Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Netsuke (miniature sculptural masterpieces, originally used as toggles) offer a window into the vast universe of Japanese history, myth, belief, scenes of everyday life, animals, flora and fauna, ghosts and demons. From mythical creatures to vegetables, netsuke subjects reflect artistic trends and customs of the Edo period, offering an insight into the original owner’s taste and lifestyle. From their first appearance in seventeenth-century Japan, netsuke were used as practical toggles for suspending everyday items from a man’s sash since the male kimono had no pockets. They were made of ivory, bone, ebony, wood and porcelain, and they could be decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl, metal alloys and elegant lacquer patterns. The most famous master carvers created miniature sculptures of unparalleled beauty and power. Some netsuke could have functioned as a talisman, but they were primarily fashion accessories. In the late 19th century, they became coveted collectibles.  

This presentation is part of the Asian Art and History series.


Image: Artist Unknown. Buddha Netsuke, n.d. Mammoth ivory. Public Domain.

Monika Bincsik

Monika Bincsik


Monika Bincsik is Diane and Arthur Abbey associate curator for Japanese decorative arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. She has organized numerous exhibitions for the museum, notably Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection (2022), Kyoto: Capital of Artistic Imagination (2019); Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection (2017) and Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met (2015). She has published extensively on Japanese decorative arts and collecting history, recently in Kimono Style: Edo Traditions to Modern Design (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2022) and The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2019).

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